Stewart Elementary School became a real family affair
Four generations of one local family who attended Stewart Elementary School will have their chance, along with other alumni, to say goodbye to their former school.
" Lots of people have gone to school at Stewart; Mr. Busby is one of them," said W. W. "Butch" Williams, now retired Webster Parish School Board Superintendent. "When you tear your school down, sometimes it helps to have one last look at it and document memories. Walk-throughs are something we were glad to offer when we are asked. We have opened up other schools for good-byes in the past."
The public is invited to attend Stewart Elementary Good-Bye Walk-Through to be held July 9 from 1 to 2 p.m.
However, the public should be aware the school is not open or available at other times.
"People need to understand the school is not open," Williams said, noting theft and vandalism have become a problem in the few weeks since school ended in May.
Williams said anyone caught stealing from or vandalizing the property will be arrested and charges will be pressed.
"People have been stealing things we still have over there, and someone is going to get hurt," Williams said. "The electricity is still on and they are trying to pull wire. It is on and they could be hurt or die trying to take things and it is not worth it."
Electricity will remain on until the asbestos abatement is complete in a few weeks as is required before the building can be demolished.
Williams had hoped the property could be used by another government agency.
"We were working on something with the state, to utilize that building for Child and Family Services," Williams said. "They came up and looked at the building. They felt like it would cost too much money to get it to code, and make changes, as well as taking a long time to get it done. They didn't feel like it was a good move for them."
According to Williams, leasing the property to a government agency requires less time and money, but because the deal fell through, the best option is to remove the building.
"We feel like it would be beneficial to demolish the building as soon as possible due to break-ins that have already occurred," Williams said. "We need to get this building down before it becomes a liability for the system."
Williams said the process to sell the property to a private party is lengthy.
"If we tried to sell it, the whole school would be torn up before we could get it sold," Williams said. "It has happened at schools we have closed in the past, such as Springhill. People (vandals) feel like they can just go in and take or destroy because it won't be used as a school any more."
Williams said the building would have to be appraised, and he estimates the school property to be worth "approximately a couple million dollars."
The building must be advertised for a month at the appraised value. If no bids are received, the price can be lowered to 80 percent of the appraised value and advertised for one month.
If after a month of advertising at 80 percent, no bids have been received, the property can be advertised at 60 percent of appraised value.
"I can't try to sell it for a penny less than appraised value right off the bat," Williams said, "After four months of the advertising process, if no one has placed a bid and bought it, then you can negotiate.
"If we wait four months, we might as well not have a building left there," he continued. "We just felt like it would be best to get the building down before it becomes more of a liability and a danger."